Meet the SUV that can detect and monitor rocks as you drive over them

2020 Range Rover Evoque
(Image credit: Josiah Bondy)

Most new advancements in cars are related to safety tech. Automakers want to keep us safe on the road, so several new Cadillac models will keep the car centered in the lane automatically, and a recent test of a Ford pick-up revealed how a safety shield protects you from rear-ending another car if you happen to look away from the road for too long.

It’s obviously a good trend, but technology can help us in many other ways.

In a 2020 Range Rover Evoque, there’s a feature designed for pure fun – and maybe a little peace of mind since this stylish SUV costs $42,650 (about £35,000, AU$63,000).

Using a camera mounted under the vehicle, ClearSight Ground View shows a real-time view of the under-carriage so you can look for rocks, tree limbs, and other obstructions. It’s one of those tech features that makes you look twice, realizing it is happening in real-time and that no other vehicle has anything like it (at least that I’ve tested).

Rock star

In my tests, I found a rocky side road near my house. To use the cameras, you press the camera button in the dashboard and then select the viewing angle you want. The Evoque has a few options for camera views.

What’s unique about ClearSight Ground View is that it is really helpful in an all-terrain setting with mud and dirt. I was able to find a tree limb in the road and inched toward it just to see if the under-carriage monitoring is actually helpful.

It is, although we’re not talking about the ability to automatically raise the vehicle or stop if the tree limb will cause damage. I only inched close enough to see it without driving over anything. There’s a good chance it wouldn’t have been a problem, but I wasn’t about to risk that.

If the owner of this vehicle decided to do some light off-roading, the viewing angle is handy because you can look for minors dangers like ruts, limbs, and rocks. I could also see using this in an area where there are potholes, ridges in the road, and other obstacles you’d want to avoid.

Off-road autonomy

That said, I did find think of other ideas for improving ClearSight Ground View. For now, it is only forward facing, but in the future I could see adding more angles looking behind the vehicle and underneath, or to the side to avoid some brush. Someday, the 2020 Evoque will be an actual off-road vehicle people will take on dirt paths and up mountains – say in 2035. It would be cool if the cameras were able to stop obstructions and veer away from them for those future drivers.

That’s the interesting thing about automotive tech to me. This is an innovative feature, one I have never seen before, and but shows Range Rover is trying new things. We all know the time is coming when drivers will want to see every possible angle around the vehicle, including underneath, to the side, above, and possibly even a zoom angle showing other cars.

On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic tech in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who's been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge tech through the paces every week. One goal: To find out which new technologies will lead us to fully self-driving cars.

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.